Parshas Balak

TAMUZ, 5779

 Interpreting Artifacts

As in the gift of Manna, so it is in the memory of artifacts

After the exodus from Egypt, Hashem gifted the Jews with manna, ’heavenly bread’, to consume during their travels in the wilderness.

Hashem furthermore commanded Moshe:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר משֶׁ֗ה זֶ֤ה הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה הֹ' מְלֹ֤א הָעֹ֨מֶר֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ לְמִשְׁמֶ֖רֶת לְדֹרֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם לְמַ֣עַן יִרְא֣וּ אֶת־הַלֶּ֗חֶם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶֽאֱכַ֤לְתִּי אֶתְכֶם֙ בַּמִּדְבָּ֔ר בְּהֽוֹצִיאִ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם

“Moses said, This is the thing that the Lord commanded: Let one omerful of it be preserved for your generations, in order that they see the bread that I fed you in the desert when I took you out of the land of Egypt.”

Like the saved Manna, the Torah is providing us with a template to preserve the meaning of the Holocaust artifact.



Dear Friend,

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Morgenstern (1787-1859) was the chassidic rebbe of Kotzk, Poland. He is considered the spiritual founder upon which the Ger chassidus, and others, were based.


After Bilaam hit his donkey, the donkey miraculously spoke to Bilaam. His message to Bilaam was also quite extraordinary. When referring to being hit three times, the donkey used the term ‘shalosh regalim’, which Rashi notes alluded to the three yomim tovim that Klal Yisroel would celebrate in the Beis Hamikdash. The message being - “You seek to eliminate a nation which celebrates three regalim each year.”  The obvious question that the commentators ask is why was the donkey making this connection between being hit and the shalosh regalim?

The Kotzker Rebbe explained that both Bilaam and Klal Yisroel faced challenging situations during the shalosh regalim. For Bilaam, his donkey would not heed his instructions. While for Klal Yisroel, the Beis Hamikdosh became very crowded, as there was not enough room for everyone during the shalosh regalim. However, the reactions of Bilaam and Klal Yisroel during these situations were diametrically different. Bilaam’s response was to hit his donkey out of frustration. However, regarding Klal Yisroel, the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (Avos 5:5)  states, that  despite the uncomfortable circumstances in the Beis Hamikdosh during the shalosh regalim, no one ever complained!

This the Rebbe said, was the donkey’s message. You, Bilaam, are attempting to curse a nation that understands that the path to greatness comes with challenges. Klal Yisroel understands and accepts this, without complaints. They continue to move forward in their devotion to serving Hashem, remaining focused on their lofty goal. You, Bilaam, have no such focus, except fulfilling your own desires; hence you get upset when there are obstacles in your path!


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